Walking through the streets of Manhattan these days you might bump into a Turkish boxing promoter accompanied by two of his Cuban stars who really seem to have a good time in the “Big Appple”.
But although they are laughing a lot, Ahmet Öner, Yuriorkis Gamboa and Odlanier Solis haven’t come to New York just for fun.
This Saturday things will get very serious for Gamboa and Solis when they give their debuts at legendary Madison Square Garden.
The two Cuban former amateur standouts defected in December 2006 and turned pro in 2007 in Germany for Ahmet Öner and his Hamburg based Arena Box-Promotion.
Now within only three years of their professional careers Gamboa and Solis, co-promoted by Arena and Top Rank, enter the big stage in their first Pay-Per-View appearance at “Island Warriors – Latin Fury 12” co-hosted by Top Rank, Arena and PR Best Boxing.
“I am very thankful and very proud that I made it this far so fast”, states WBA featherweight champion Yuriorkis Gamboa.
“New York is great and the Madison Square Garden is probably the most prestigious venue for boxing in the world. Every inch of this arena breathes history. I feel that I really need to show a great performance here to honour the great tradition of the MSG – and I am absolutely ready to do so.”
“Yuri and I are the leaders of a Cuban team taking over professional boxing”, adds WBC international champion Solis. “I turned professional to achieve the same glory and collect titles like I did it at the amateurs.
"Thanks to my promoter and my management I am on my best way to fulfil this task. I will beat everybody who steps in between me and a shot at the heavyweight championship of the world.”
On October 10, two-time world title challenger Monte Barrett will try to get into Solis’ way to a title shot. The hard-punching 38 year old New York resident came in as late replacement for Kevin Johnson and Fres Oquendo who were originally planned to face Solis but stepped aside for different reasons.
Johnson is likely to face Vitali Klitschko for the WBC championship in December; Oquendo could not leave his home city Chicago due to legal issues.
“It’s never easy when somebody pulls out on very short notice”, says Ahmet Öner. “The promoter has to find a suitable replacement and the fighter needs to adjust his game plan to a new opponent. I think we did our job quite well.
"Monte Barrett will give Solis a tough test. But I am sure that Odlanier will do an excellent job as well. He is extremely focussed and knows that he can beat anybody when he just fights his fight. Solis is the future of the division. If he beats Barrett – which I’m sure he will – he will underline his claims to fight for the world title soon.”
“El Ciclon” Gamboa has already captured his first professional champion belt by outclassing Jose “Cheo” Rojas on April 17 for the WBA featherweight title. Now the Cuban phenomenon is seeking for his first title defence against Whyber Garcia from Panama.
Headlining “Island Warriors – Latin Fury 12” will be WBO super bantamweight champion Juan Manuel Lopez (26-0, 24 kos) who defends his title against Rogers Mtagwa (26-12-2, 18 kos) from Tanzania.